Law to Exempt Batei Medrash, Yeshivos Passes First Reading

YERUSHALAYIM -
A scene in the Mirrer Yeshivah, Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
During seder in the Mir Yeshivah, Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset passed on its first reading a law that will exempt batei medrash and yeshivos from local arnona (real estate) taxes.

Until now, houses of worship, including synagogues, and lehavdil, mosques and churches have been exempt from arnona. Places of prayer where learning takes place are also generally exempt, but until now there has been no national exemption for buildings that are primarily yeshivos, although many local authorities and municipalities have local bylaws that provide exemptions for the yeshivos in their towns.

In areas where such exemptions have not been granted, heads of institutions have petitioned the High Court to expand exemptions to include their buildings if they are also used for prayer, for example if a daily or Shabbos minyan is held on the premises. The court’s rulings on the petitions have been mixed, with some of the institutions being granted exemptions, and others not. This law seeks to rectify that situation and expand the exemption nationally. The only restriction is that the building cannot contain a place of business, such as a wedding hall.